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A guide to understanding the benefits of common skincare ingredients

Healthy skin is something that everyone desires, and there are many ways to achieve it. Skincare ingredients play a vital role in keeping the skin healthy, youthful, and radiant but the world of skincare can be overwhelming, with countless products and ingredients available in the market. In this article, we will focus on some of the most popular skincare ingredients. We look at some of the benefits of these ingredients, how they work, and how to incorporate them into your skincare routine. Whether you're a skincare enthusiast or a beginner, this guide will provide you with valuable insights on achieving healthy, glowing skin.


Retinol is a type of vitamin A that is commonly used in skincare products to improve the appearance of ageing skin. Retinol is available in a variety of forms, including over-the-counter creams, serums, and gels, as well as prescription-strength formulations (where it is known as retinoid). Retinol and retinoids provide similar results, but retinol does so over a longer period as it is less concentrated.

Retinol works by increasing cell turnover in the skin, which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing. Retinol is a type of retinoid, which means that it can bind to specific receptors in the skin. These receptors are responsible for regulating cell growth and differentiation. When retinol is applied to the skin, it stimulates these receptors, which increases cell turnover and the production of collagen and elastin.

Collagen and elastin are two proteins that are essential for maintaining the skin's structure and elasticity. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen and elastin, which can lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol helps to stimulate the production of these proteins, which can help to improve the appearance of the skin.

In addition to its anti-ageing benefits, retinol can also help to improve the texture and tone of the skin. It can help to reduce the appearance of acne, hyperpigmentation, and other skin concerns. However, retinol can be irritating to some people, particularly those with sensitive skin. It is important to start with a low concentration of retinol and gradually increase the concentration over time as your skin gets used to the product. These products are best applied to the skin in small amounts at night, as retinol can cause sensitivity to sunlight.

It is also important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen when using retinol (maximum SPF 15), as retinol can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. In addition, it is recommended to use a moisturiser that contains hyaluronic acid to help reduce any potential dryness or irritation that may occur. Thoclor Labs GF2 can effectively control any inflammation caused by retinol. The active ingredient in GF2 has been proven to suppress inflammation and prevent further redness in the skin caused by retinol.

Overall, retinol can be an effective ingredient in skincare products for improving the appearance of ageing skin, but it is important to follow the instructions provided by the product and consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns.

Retinol (and retinoids)l may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin as mentioned and are not recommended for use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is a popular skincare ingredient because it has several potential benefits for the skin. Here are a few ways that ascorbic acid may be used in skincare products:

  1. As an antioxidant helping to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, such as pollution and UV radiation. This may help to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles and can also help to improve the overall appearance of the skin.
  2. For skin brightening as it evens out the skin tone, giving skin a more youthful and radiant appearance. This may be due to its ability to reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage, acne, or ageing.
  3. For collagen synthesis as ascorbic acid is involved in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that gives structure to the skin as we mentioned. Increasing collagen synthesis may help to improve the firmness and elasticity of the skin and may also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  4. For sun protection, as some studies have suggested that ascorbic acid may help to protect the skin from UV radiation, although more research is needed to confirm this. However, ascorbic acid should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen, as it does not provide sufficient protection on its own.

When applied topically, ascorbic acid is most effective in concentrations of 10% or higher. However, it is important to note that ascorbic acid can be unstable and can degrade quickly when exposed to air or light. Therefore, it is best to choose a product that is packaged in an opaque container or airtight pump to ensure the stability of the ingredient. It is also important to use ascorbic acid in conjunction with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect the skin from further damage.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps to keep the skin hydrated and plump. It is a humectant, which means that it can attract and retain moisture in the skin.

In the skin, hyaluronic acid is present in the extracellular matrix, which is a network of proteins and other molecules that provide structural support to the skin. It helps to maintain the skin's moisture levels by binding to water molecules and holding them in place, which helps to prevent dehydration and dryness.

As we age, the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin decreases, leading to a loss of moisture and elasticity. This can result in the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and a dull, lacklustre complexion. When applied topically, hyaluronic acid can help to hydrate and plump the skin, giving it a more youthful and radiant appearance. It can also help to improve the skin's texture and tone, making it smoother and more even.

In addition to its moisturizing benefits, hyaluronic acid can also help to soothe and calm the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce redness and irritation, making it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive or reactive skin.

Overall, hyaluronic acid is a versatile ingredient that can provide numerous benefits for the skin, including hydration, plumping, and soothing. Hyaluronic acid may also help to protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and pollution, although more research is needed to confirm this. Hyaluronic acid should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen, as it does not provide sufficient protection on its own.

This ingredient is generally considered to be safe and is well-tolerated by most people, although some may be allergic to it. It is often used in conjunction with other skincare ingredients for improved results and can be found in a wide range of skincare products, including moisturizers, serums, and masks.

Hyaluronic acid is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy, as it is a naturally occurring substance in the body and is unlikely to cause harm to your developing baby. Some women may experience changes in their skin during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations so it's possible that your skin may become more sensitive or reactive, if you find that is the case for you then be sure to use gentle, non-irritating skincare products instead. It's also important to choose skincare products from reputable brands and to avoid any products that contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as retinoids, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Overall, hyaluronic acid can be a safe and effective ingredient to incorporate into a skincare routine during pregnancy, but it's always best to err on the side of caution and speak with your doctor first.

Alpha-hydroxy acid

Alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs are a group of plant- and animal-derived acids - that are commonly used in skincare products to improve the appearance of the skin. AHAs work by exfoliating the top layer of the skin, which can help to improve the texture and tone of the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. AHAs can also help to unclog pores and improve the overall appearance of the skin. AHAs are also typically used in the evenings as they can make the skin more sensitive to the sun and UV damage. In higher concentrations, AHAs are used as skin peels. Glycolic acid (made from sugar) is the most popular AHA and when used as a skin peel, improves the texture and tone of the skin. These peels can also improve the appearance of acne. If you have sensitive skin opt for lactic acid, a milder AHA, instead.

We do recommend that you consult with a skincare professional when adding an AHA to your routine, just to make sure you pick the correct product for your skin type. While there is no evidence to suggest that AHAs are harmful during pregnancy, their use may be best avoided or limited due to potential risks. AHAs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, and therefore increase your risk of developing skin discolouration, which is already a risk due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Hypochlorous acid

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is the most significant (and may we say exciting) chemical compound to be used recently in skincare. Under physiological conditions, hypochlorous acid is produced by the body’s white blood cells as a natural part of our immune systems. HOCl has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be effective at killing disease-forming bacteria (like the bacteria that cause acne) and reducing inflammation in the skin. In skincare, hypochlorous acid solutions are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and rosacea. HOCl reverses skin damage caused by long-term inflammation (inflammageing) and is effective in improving pigmentation marks in the skin.

HOCl must always be used on clean skin directly after cleansing the face. Use GF2 both morning and evening for the best results. Once the GF2 spray has dried on the skin then other skincare products can be applied. The hypochlorous molecule is very sensitive to other chemicals and this is why it has to be used before anything else, or it is quickly destroyed and lost.

A good quality hypochlorous acid solution (HOCl), like that made by Thoclor Labs, is safe to use even if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as studies have shown no evidence of genotoxicity in either Ames or micro-nucleus tests. Not only that but HOCl has a good safety record in general, having been evaluated many times over the last century! It is important to note that the HOCl molecule itself is never the issue, it is always about what else the solution it comes in might contain, so as always make sure you buy a good quality product, like our Skin Series products. These leave no toxic residue and contain no undesirable elements making them perfect to use no matter where you are in your skin or family journey.⁠

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